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Irish Pavilion Presents Portfolio of Irish Architecture Practice de Blacam and Meagher
Members of the public are invited to read the work and take it away. Photo: Alice Clancy.

VENICE.- Commissioned by the Irish Architecture Foundation under the directorship of Nathalie Weadick and curated by Tom dePaor, Peter Maybury, Alice Casey and Cian Deegan, ‘of de Blacam and Meagher’ examines the built and unbuilt portfolio of Irish architecture practice de Blacam and Meagher of the last 33 years.

Speaking at the launch hosted by His Excellency Patrick Hennessy, Irish Ambassador to Italy, Minister Hanafin said “De Blacam and Meagher have deservedly achieved many awards and accolades for their work over the decades and it is fitting that their practice should have this opportunity to represent Ireland's architectural community on the world stage. Their presence here will raise further the profile of Irish architecture and, I have no doubt, bring it the audience, profile and success it deserves.”

The Irish pavilion at Venice is the eighteenth century oratory of Irish monk St. Gall near Piazza San Marco. Completed in 1703, the oratory’s perfect jewel-box-like dimensions are an ideal location, architecturally and historically, to assert an Irish architectural presence in Venice. The venue responds to the Biennale’s overall theme People Meet in Architecture, encouraging the public to not only interact with the paper archive exhibition, but also with the physical space it is placed within.

Ireland’s presence in Venice extends beyond the national pavilion: Tom dePaor’s practice, dePaor architects, have become the first Irish office to be invited by the Director of the Biennale to present in the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale– they are presenting a folly in pleated linen and lavendered softwood, called “4am”; and Alice Casey and Cian Deegan’s TAKA architects are the only Irish practice to feature in “Worldwide Architecture: the next generation”, a new book being launched in Venice which profiles 45 of the most exciting architects under 40 around the globe.

The exhibition takes the form of a book unbound, containing volumes of drawings and photographic reproductions from the archive, contemporary photography and readings of the works with commentaries. As both archive and reading room, the space has been furnished with and lit by items from the de Blacam and Meagher archive. Members of the public are invited to read the work and take it away. Over time, the stacks of paper are depleted, until finally we are left with only the furnishings. The archive will, in essence, be consumed.

Formed in 1976, this architectural practice has built houses and places of work, commerce, education and worship. In turn, the influence of de Blacam and Meagher has permeated the many facets of Irish life with a distinct cultural presence. The quality of their work has been recognised both in Ireland and Internationally, and the book Architects Today refers to them as “the godfathers of contemporary Irish architecture”. Known for their focus on making simple buildings and the employment of beautiful and sustainable materials, some of their best-known buildings in Ireland include Cork Institute of Technology, Chapel of Reconciliation at the Catholic shrine at Knock, Co. Mayo, the Samuel Beckett Theatre Dublin and the restoration of the Dining Hall and Atrium in Trinity College Dublin for the University’s 400th anniversary celebrations.

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